If humans were unable to make assumptions, the world would be a much simpler place. I am continually amazed at how people (myself included) make assumptions that are not based on facts. Rather they are based on our own thought processes, existing beliefs, insecurities and emotional temperament.
When we are feeling low/depressed we tend to make assumptions that are negative. Everything we experience in the world is through a negative assumption filter (known as “negative mental filter” by CBT therapists.
Here are some examples:
When we are low we may think the following types of thoughts:
“The world is out to get me”; “No one cares”; “I fail at everything I do”; “I am just a waste of space”; “No one loves me”; “I’m not good enough”; “they didn’t call because they dislike me”
When we are feeling neutral or happy we tend to make different assumptions like:
“I may not always get things right but I do most of the time”; “I make mistakes but I learn the lesson”; “Change is inevitable and it will come right”.
Our emotions and our beliefs shape our assumptions…if our thinking is wrong then our assumptions will be too.
Communicate directly with others
When someone says or does something which leaves you unsure of what they meant, instead of making an assumption – be direct and ASK.
“What did you mean by that?” or “When you say you can’t meet me tonight, is that because you are busy or because you are worried about seeing me?”
If you don’t ask, you are more likely to make assumptions. People resist asking and prefer to make assumptions and that leads to a downward thought spiral of inaccuracy. Once an assumption has been made, confirmation bias kicks in, and the downward thought spiral begins. The brain defaults to keeping you safe and looks for threats that often don’t even exist.
Even if you ask and don’t like the answer, you will know what you are really dealing with. It’s better to know what you are dealing with in reality than living according to assumptions. Assumptions cause unnecessary stress and anxiety.
Making assumptions is an error in thinking known as “mind reading”.
Be more self-aware of your ‘mental diet’ (the thoughts you feed yourself and believe) when you’re making assumptions and then look for the facts, rather than listening to your emotions…